There’s a story told about Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II. At one point, he addressed his cabinet and told them the government was out of money.
“We have nothing left with which to fight the war,” he said. “Now, we must think.”
Perhaps a similar call for thinking and ideas is something Arizonans should consider when it comes to funding the state’s road system. There’s no getting around it. Arizona’s roads are in bad shape. The fact is the money isn’t there to do all the work that needs to be done.
Rural roads are particularly in bad shape. These include streets in small towns and cities around the state. Urban roads are in better shape, but not by much. It’s understandable why the Arizona Department of Transportation would want to spend more in urban areas. That’s where the most number of people are, as well as the highest levels of traffic.
We’ve heard from ADOT over the years that they’re focusing more on maintaining and improving what they already have rather than on building new infrastructure. Unless there is specific funding for a new project, they’ll focus more on maintenance.
The problem is most of the funding for roads, streets and highways comes from the Highway User Revenue Fund, which is made up of revenue from the state’s fuel tax. Part of the problem is today’s vehicles use less fuel, which means lower fuel tax revenue. The other problem was HURF funds have been diverted over the years to other uses, like funding the Department of Public Safety.
Mohave County Supervisor Jeanne Bishop told the Arizona House of Representatives Transportation Committee that ADOT is estimating an under-investment of at least $1.2 billion a year for roads for the foreseeable future. That will only address 43 percent of the needs of the state’s road system.
La Paz County Supervisor Duce Minor has said 61 percent of the county’s roads are in bad shape, and complaints about the roads are the top complaint he hears from constituents.
Bad roads are a detriment to economic development. A good transportation network is something that businesses look at very closely. Do you recall what the road to Avi Suquilla Airport outside Parker was like before it was rebuilt? Imagine what business clients flying into Parker thought when the first thing they saw was that road.
The Transportation Committee Vice Chairman, Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu City, recognized the need for maintaining Arizona’s roads, but added he doesn’t see an immediate answer on the issue.
This is where we, the people of Arizona, can come in. There are many sharp minds in this state, and I’m sure there are many ideas for our highways that no one has even thought of yet. We need to think, and send our ideas to our state legislators and Gov. Doug Ducey. They need ideas, and we can give them some.
If you have any ideas, we urge you to contact your state representatives.
Like the members of Churchill’s cabinet, we must think. The future of our state depends on it.